A Story Of A Food Critic Gone Sour

TACOMA - A local journalist is accused of abusing his power, embarrassing his newspaper and damaging his own credibility.

It's a story of a food critic gone sour.

His name is Bart Ripp -- now restaurants have nicknamed him 'Ripp the Ripper'.

He was the food critic and feature writer for the Tacoma News Tribune for 15 years. Now, his former boss says Ripp took food for free and made up fake interviews.

"We're in the 'dishing it out' business and I think we've got to be in the 'taking it in' business when we've messed up," says Dave Zeeck, Executive Editor at the Tacoma News Tribune.

The Tacoma News Tribune admits its restaurant critic messed up. They believe Ripp lied and that he made up at least 25 sources he quoted in his articles.

"People who were supposed to be eating at restaurants... but also in feature stories. We have an ethnic fest every year and some of the fair goers we think were fabricated," says Zeeck.

When managers confronted Ripp, he quit.

Food critics are supposed to be anonymous -- someone who orders his food, pays for his meal and leaves with no special treatment so readers get an unbiased review. According to Zeeck, Ripp ate for free and took expensive gifts.

KOMO 4 News spoke with several restaurant owners and general managers in Tacoma and nobody wanted to go on camera, but they did say over the phone that they knew Bart Ripp got favorable reviews from him and one man said he won awards from Ripp.

Unfortunately, now everyone has to wonder whether what he wrote was real or a "ripp off."

KOMO 4 News called Bart Ripp he said he had no comment and hung up the phone. We're told he's now a sales representative for an advertising firm.